Judge orders hospital to keep baby on life support - WSMV News 4

Judge orders hospital to keep baby on life support

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Steffen Rivenburg Jr.'s family shared this photo of him. Steffen Rivenburg Jr.'s family shared this photo of him.

A piece of paper signed by a juvenile court judge may be the only thing separating a Tennessee baby from life and death.

The biological parents of 7-month-old Steffen Rivenburg Jr. told Channel 4 a difficult story. The baby is on life support at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

Trish Tornberg and Steffen Rivenburg Sr. said their son was born with Down syndrome and congenital heart disease, but had no other problems until he was taken into the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services custody in early February.

A few weeks later they said he contracted a virus. Doctors said his heart won't be able to handle a transplant.

Hi family said it’s at least worth a shot.

“I love him very much and I want him back,” said grandmother Lisa Rivenburg.

Lisa Rivenburg said her grandson was scheduled to be taken off life support Tuesday, but a judge ordered doctors to keep him alive.

“When we found out Friday we said, ‘No, that is not an option,’” Tornberg said.

Steffen Jr. is in the care of the state. His parents said DCS took him because they felt his medical needs were being neglected.

The couple admits they had to reschedule a doctor's appointment three times because of transportation troubles from Clarksville.

“It’s hard to be there for our son when we are getting treated like criminals,” Tornberg said.

The family wants Steffen Jr. to have a heart transplant, but said doctors tell them he is too sick.

“That’s not their call. They are not God. That's the problem. They have been sitting up there playing God with this child,” Lisa Rivenburg said.

John Howser, chief communications officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said it’s against the law to provide any information on the case, but sent Channel 4 this statement:

At Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital each child is cared for maximally, through the utmost abilities and resources offered in this region. Medical decisions about children entrusted to our care are made in collaboration with their parents.

"It's hard. There are a lot of questions. We feel like something is definitely missing. There is always a piece of the puzzle to find,” Tornberg said.

“Hug your children and kiss your children. Don't let them go because you could lose them tomorrow,” Lisa Rivenburg said.

The court order expires June 5. On that that date, the family will have to return to a judge and push for another extension. They are also working with attorneys.

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